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Mediterranean Rice Salad in a round green glass bowl with a sprig of basil in the middle

Mediterranean Rice Salad

  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 1x


A rice salad with fresh spring vegetables, Pecorino cheese and lemony dressing. A great spring and summer side dish.

Adapted from Michael Chiarello's Insalata di Riso recipe


  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice, rinsed in several changes of cold water. Rinse in a fine mesh colander immersed in a large bowl of water. Swish rice to release excess starches. Lift colander. Pour out water. Repeat until water is mostly clear.
  • Kosher salt

For the Vinaigrette:

  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

For The Veggies:

  • 1 large bunch thick asparagus, tough ends snapped off, spears cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • 1 1/2 cups of peas (5-6 ounces), fresh shelled peas or frozen peas
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds, washed well and drained
  • 1 small head of radicchio, halved, cored and roughly chopped

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of loosely packed basil leaves, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese or good quality parmesan cheese such as Parmigiana Reggiano.


  1. Put the rice in a saucepan with 6 cups of cold water and one teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 8-15 minutes (Different brands of rice need or less time). Check the rice for doneness starting at 8 minutes. The rice should be tender but not mushy. Drain the rice in a colander and run cool water over it immediately, to stop the cooking and to rinse away excess starch. Let the rice drain well. (Can be done up to a day ahead. Store cooled rice in an airtight bag or container in the fridge. Bring to room temp before using)
  2. To make the vinaigrette, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking, until emulsified. (Vinaigrette Can be made a few days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temp before using)
  3. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a medium pot of water, with 1 teaspoon of salt, to a boil. Add asparagus and peas. Cook for 2 minutes or so, until the vegetables are bright green and crisp-tender. Immediately drain and plunge the veggies into the ice water. When cool, drain well.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the leeks and radicchio, stirring frequently, until tender, 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and cool for 10 minutes or so.
  5. In a large bowl combine the rice, asparagus, peas, leeks and radicchio, basil, cheese and lemon vinaigrette. Correct the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, to taste.


  • This recipe has been updated from its original. It had only one cup of raw rice and it called for a half a cup of olive oil for the vinaigrette. In the updated recipe, the rice is rinsed after cooking instead of being spread out on a tray and cooled. This updated recipe makes a more substantial dish with less oil and the same great flavor. Nutritional information has been added as well.
  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Category: Side Dish, Rice Salad
  • Method: Boil
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean, Italian

Keywords: rice salad with vegetables and pecorino cheese